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Canada's sizzling bestseller: 'It's all about the weather'

Climate-hardened readers have made the Canadian Weather Trivia Calendar a best seller, a feat few government publications can claim. Climatologist David Philips aims to entice weather fanatics with the 19th edition of the calendar, which hits the shelves this month.

Few makers of calendars travel the country on promotional tours but David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada, isn't selling just any old book of days.

In fact, for the past two decades, climate-hardened readers have made the Canadian Weather Trivia Calendar a bestseller, a feat few government publications can claim. With 22 stops scheduled across the country, Phillips aims to entice weather fanatics with the 19th edition of the calendar, which hits the shelves this month.

"It's the most popular calendar sold in Canada," Phillips said in an interview with CBC.ca in Toronto. "There's no cleavage or cats in this calendar. It's all about the weather."

"We're known as the weather people of the world and we have a lot of tough weather in this country," he said.

Phillips, who is well-known to television viewers for his enthusiastic weather commentaries, estimates that he's collected more than25,000 stories duringhiscareer. The climatologist consults old newspapers, diaries and history books to stuff the calendar with anecdotes, history facts and quiz questions.

'We scoff at blizzards and sneer at frostbite'

"We're so outwardly disgusted by our weather but so secretly proud of the same weather," Phillips saidof Canadians' passion for weather. "We [complain] about it; we say, 'My gosh when is winter going to be over' and 'It's another rainy weekend,' and yet at the same time … that hearty pioneer spirit still burns. We scoff at blizzards and sneer at frostbite."

Phillipscreated the calendar as a thank you gift for volunteer weather observers who provide information to the federal agency. In its first printing, 19 years ago, the modest calendar was black and white and cost about 50 cents a copy.

Republished three times

The volunteers loved itand word of mouth spread about the innovative calendar. Media outlets were anxious to get copiesand high demand forced Environment Canada to republish the product three times.

"Almost a black market developed for the remaining copies," Phillips said. Environment Canada immediately made the decision to sell the calendar in its government stores and bookstores.

Theproduct has also spawned a weather calendar industry, with the U.S., Hong Kong, England, Singapore and Australia producing their own versions.

"Most of the major countries in the world produce a kind of a weather calendar but this is clearly the first one," Phillips said. "It's grown to be a popular thing."

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